We are becoming a nation of workers on the move – or so media hype surrounding the so-called “wireless revolution” would have us believe. But more recently, this hype has begun to take on some substance.
We are becoming a nation of workers on the move – or so media hype surrounding the so-called “wireless revolution” would have us believe. But more recently, this hype has begun to take on some substance. While most of us still work in an office with all its cables and connections, it seems there is also a place for wireless technology in our working lives.
Caroline Plumb, founder of research and recruitment company FreshMinds, says that internet-enabled wireless technology allows her to manage her business more efficiently. She says she’s always on hand to respond to pressing company demands.
‘A lot of my work is done internationally, which means I have meetings all over the place. The mobile device that I use runs windows and has a small keyboard; I can open PowerPoint slides and documents in Word. I have to reply to client enquiries as they come in,’ she says.
Wireless technology now takes on many forms. The most familiar is perhaps Wi-Fi, which allows a PC, mobile phone or PDA to connect to the internet or another device without cables, when near an access point or group of access points known as a “hotspot”.
But new technologies are emerging – most notably the next stage in wireless technology, WiMAX, which promises a higher quality and speed of connection. Wi-Fi capabilities are limited if the signal has to turn too many corners or penetrate too many walls, while WiMAX works more reliably through ‘non-line-of-sight’ connections. With this in mind, it is likely to gain market share over the coming years, as people demand faster connection speeds and more reliable coverage.
Then there are third generation (3G) mobile devices, which allow internet connection on the move. The fact that you can be in touch all the time is one positive facet of the wireless revolution. For example, sales people could remotely check stock levels and prices while out on sales calls, and as Jayhun Mollazade, chief executive of wireless broadband company QTEL Global Networks, explains, ‘working in distant areas is made possible. For instance, banks that have ATMs in remote positions need to be able to make sure they are secure and online, and a utility provider can take meter readings remotely without needing to send out an operative.’
This all sounds very efficient, but there are further concerns. Does this technology mean that we’re destined to be perpetually “on call”? Julie White, who turned down an offer for funding on TV show Dragons’ Den for her home baby party company Truly Madly Baby, doesn’t see it as an issue, freely admitting to depending on her wireless, internet and email-ready PDA.
She concedes that when you run a company, it’ll take over your life: ‘You live, sleep, eat and breathe your business anyway – that’s just the way it is. If you took my PDA away from me I think I’d be lost. It’s had a huge impact on my productivity levels and significantly reduced the amount of “dead time” in which I would have got nothing done while travelling. One of my great bugbears as a customer is when I don’t get a response to an enquiry, so I do my best to make sure that I can get back to people as soon as I can.’